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Holiday drive success inspires a new group



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(FROM LEFT) Senta Hall, Steve Hurley and Deb Kirch are starting a new group called GIVE, Geneva Inspires Volunteer Effort.

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May 22, 2012 | 02:32 PM
GENEVA — It seems as though the fun part of starting a charitable volunteer group for Police Chief Steve Hurley, Clerk of Courts Senta Hall and Clerk-Treasurer Deb Kirch is developing ideas.

While talking Thursday, May 17, about GIVE — Geneva Inspires Volunteer Effort — Hurley emerged as an idea man.

Questions about GIVE's booth at the upcoming FunFestival somehow led him to suggest to Hall that they incorporate stick figures into a banner design in hopes that it would attract children's attention.

Hall, perhaps the most optimistic of the bunch, riffed off that idea, took that strand and started weaving it into some sort of framework.

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Kirch didn't say much, but when she did, it often was met with laughter and consideration.

"This is how we come up with stuff," Hall said. "All three of us banter."

"Then someone says something and it's like, 'Write that down,'" Kirch said.

In this case, what some may call water cooler gossip led to an ambitious, potentially life-changing effort for the town of Geneva.

"We're always bouncing ideas off each other," Hurley said.

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That's how, last Thanksgiving, the trio became involved in a Thanksgiving food drive.

Town employees provided six families with 20-pound turkeys and other foods.

"It started as a little thing then it just grew and grew," Kirch said. "More people wanted to be involved."

Hall was so inspired by that effort she organized a holiday toy drive/family adoption program which helped 17 children from five families.

The holiday drive apparently had a profound impact on her.

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She said "seeing a child light up, to be happy by something that was truly heartfelt" inspired her and her family.

"I sent my kids a picture of all the Christmas presents we had collected last year," Hall said. "My kids said, 'What could we do?'"

Hurley said on the heels of last year's success, they talked about formalizing this effort.

Hence GIVE, a volunteer group he said involves not just town employees but town officials and anyone "who has a desire to serve."

Hall said the goal is to make the town of Geneva a better place.

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"People need help in our community, be it financially, be it an ear to listen to them," she said. "We want to put back into the community."

"I think it would help them to know they're not the only ones suffering," Kirch said about those facing hard times.

So far, the three have some ideas in the hopper to carry them on through this year's holiday season — and then some.

"Senta, I think, had a great idea (to) have a town hall open house where all the department heads and perhaps the representatives from various committees are on hand," Hurley said.

But that's not happening yet.

The three events which they said will take place are a community-wide free meal, another holiday drive and a spaghetti/pasta dinner around Valentine's Day 2013.

Hall said they are also working on spreading the word about GIVE and raising money at the same time.

"We're hoping to sell T-shirts to fundraise, so we can do some of our programs," she said.

After its "public" unveiling via the FunFestival booth, the first major GIVE function will be the community-wide meal, which it is planning in conjunction with Como Community Church.

Hall said she wants to stress this is a "group," not one or a few individuals.

She has other goals in mind for GIVE. But as Hurley said, GIVE is a work in progress.

"If people see GIVE, I wouldn't want them to think of money," Hall said. "I would want them to think about unity and service."

They agreed GIVE is, right now, not a food pantry or a charity, but a community group seeking its own identity.

Is that going to be the greatest challenge for this group?

Not likely.

"The meal's going to be a big undertaking, but we know we'll just make it happen," Hurley said about the community-wide meal. "We'll go out and beat the path to find the resources."

Kirch said she just hopes people take advantage of GIVE.

As for Hall, she said, "I never thought about challenges." Which is what an optimist would say.

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